Stevia is often categorised as an artificial sweetener, but it is not artificial, in fact, it is simply a small green herb with extremely sweet leaves. I often have one growing in my garden. In commercial versions, the leaves are ground and processed into a fine white powder.
Pure stevia is extremely sweet! Hundreds of times sweeter than sugar! In fact, 1/2 tsp is equivalent to 1 cup sugar! I use pure stevia in my cookbooks, so if you are using my recipes, make sure the brand you use is pure; otherwise some of my recipes will not work. Some of the brands in the supermarket have a huge label that says ‘Stevia’ but it is actually mixed with erythritol to bulk it up. Stevia itself is ultra sweet, so it is only used in small amounts. If one of these alternative brands is used, you could imagine that the result would not be very sweet.
I also don’t recommend erythritol or xylitol because neither can be absorbed by humans, which means they can cause digestive symptoms and interfere with digestion of the food eaten with it. And good digestion is paramount to both good health and weight loss. Also, xylitol can kill a dog (low blood sugar, seizures, and/or liver failure) if it accidentally gets a hold of something made with it. If you have animals, it is safer not to have it in the house.
What about the stevia aftertaste?
Stevia leaves do have a bitter component to them, however, the good brands remove that bitter component during processing. Cheap brands can still have the bitter after taste. It is also important to avoid using too much; too much can leave an artificial taste. If you have had a bad stevia experience, I would recommend trying again.
In my opinion, stevia is the best natural, alternative sweetener for a strict keto diet (it doesn’t contain the toxic chemicals that can cause hunger and health issues, it doesn’t spike blood sugar, and doesn’t cause digestive issues like the sugar alcohols that cannot be absorbed).
And, for those who have never liked stevia, many have told me that flavoured stevia was a game changer. My favourite is vanilla, which is great in chai tea, coffee etc. Or, strawberry in yoghurt.
The brand I use and reference in all my recipes is Nirvana.